Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei emphasised that “what prevents the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons is Islamic principles and ideology because Islam forbids the building of any weapon – be that nuclear or chemical – which is used for the mass destruction of ordinary people”. He further argued that “the issue of building a nuclear weapon is merely an excuse [for the West]. They are even opposed to us having normal weapons because they wish to remove all elements of power from Iran”. Iran “will not back down on the nuclear issue, in the same way that it will not back down on other issues either”, Khamenei asserted, adding: “We are determined to develop our nuclear capabilities in line with the needs of the country. For this reason, Iran’s enrichment will not be limited to 20 per cent, and we will take whatever action is necessary for the country. For example, for developing nuclear propulsion and other activities, we may even increase enrichment to 60 per cent”. Asked about the comment on raising enrichment, a State Department spokesperson remarked: “this is what sounds like a threat. We are not going to respond in specific terms to hypotheticals”.
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